Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Never Too Old Part 2

The day was mild, warming into the low 70's.  The rainy season had passed.  Although February is the coolest month on the island, the temperature would stay in the 50's overnight.  A restless mother listened to the "tap, tap, tapping" and watched for her chick's beak to break through the egg.  She was not alone.  Close by was her mate with whom she bonded for life.  Surrounding her were others.  Many others.  One and one half million others.  70% of the world population of the Laysan Albatross make this island their home.  It is best known for the important World War II naval battle. Today 500,000 acres of land and water harbor the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.  The new chick has only  a 66% chance of survival.  One of the greatest hazards for the chick is the so-called "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" - the surrounding seas of the Pacific Ocean whose peculiar,  localized winds and currents create a gyre of marine litter.  Each year 5 tons of plastic are fed to Albatross chicks by parents attracted to the debris.  The new chick is carefully guarded by her mother - not surprising for a mom who has raised about 35 chicks.  Mom is carefully watched by biologists who attached a band around her leg in 1956.  At 62, she is thought to be very old by Albatross standards.  She is called Wisdom by the people in the bird banding program of the U.S. Geological Survey.  Read about Wisdom and her new chick here

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